Students who wish to major in music should contact the Music Department at (940) 397-4267, by email at Music Department or by filling out our brief Music Interest Survey and one of our faculty members will contact you regarding your area of study and interest in music at Midwestern State.
Entering music majors should make an appointment to visit with a music faculty member prior to enrolling for classes. All students at MSU are assigned a faculty advisor to help with the selection of courses and the completion of degree plans. Transfer students should bring with them an unofficial transcript of all course work previously completed.
Entering students may be required to take music placement tests in theory or instrumental or vocal auditions. It is recommended that entering students in music have prior experience in high school band or choir or several years of piano or guitar lessons. Advanced standing of transfer students will be determined by placement tests and evaluation of scholastic standing.
Music majors, with the exception of keyboard performance majors, are required to maintain continuous enrollment in piano class or applied piano (with approval from the chair of keyboard studies) until the keyboard proficiency is passed.
Music majors must participate in at least one major ensemble for credit each semester of enrollment except during the semester of student teaching.
Music majors are required to maintain continuous enrollment in their primary performance area until successfully completing the senior recital.
We are excited that you are interested in Midwestern State University and in the Department of Music. Being a musician is a very rewarding career, whether you are choosing a performance or teacher certification concentration, and we will do our best to help you prepare for the career path you choose.
Music, performance or teacher certification in music is not a career to choose lightly. Some people choose to major in music because it’s what they liked to do in high school, or because it’s what their friends choose, or because band or choir was an easy subject they didn’t have to work hard to pass. These are not reasons to major in music. They are exactly the reasons NOT to major in music. If you have spent time in your high school band or choir and want to keep playing your instrument or singing, please do so. There are many community bands and choirs to satisfy your interest. If you are choosing to major in music it should be because you have a deep love for the art and an inexpressible passion for performing and teaching music. Most musicians would agree that it’s among the hardest and most demanding majors in college. People who choose music only because they liked band or choir in high school frequently wind up spending a semester in music and changing to something else. Careers in music are vastly more complicated than just band and choir.
If you have chosen to pursue a degree in music you have probably already spent a number of years in your junior high and high school band or choir, or you have taken six to eight years of piano lessons, or four or more years of guitar lessons. It goes without saying that you will need to have a previous background in music to be successful in a music career. While this is true about most college majors, it is rare, almost unheard of, for someone without several years of ensemble or private lesson experience or someone who doesn’t already read music fluently to be successful as a college music major.
All entering musicians should be able to read one clef (either treble or bass) fluently, and be able to read the other clef fairly well. You should also be able to read rhythms in 4/4, 2/4, 3/4, 12/8, 6/8 and 9/8 and be able to sight read in all keys. An incoming music major should take the time to contact the applied instructor (private teacher) for that instrument or voice and find out what is expected for an audition.
If you are a woodwind or brass player, you should be able to play the major, minor and chromatic scales for your instrument. Woodwind and brass players should own their own “major” instrument, i.e. flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, horn, trumpet, trombone, etc. This is the instrument you will “major” on, even if you were primarily a piccolo, bass clarinet or baritone saxophone player in high school. The university will provide the large specialty, or “doubling” instruments. Instrumentalists are expected to provide their own reeds, neck straps, mouthpieces, instrument lubricants, mutes, etc., and you are expected to maintain your instrument in good repair.
Percussionists should have experience with snare drum, marimba, vibraphone or other percussion keyboard instrument, have some experience on drum kit, and some experience on timpani. Percussionists are responsible for their own sticks and mallets, and should be able to read both treble and bass clefs.
Pianists should be able to play all scales, major and minor, and all arpeggios two octaves. Guitarists should be able to read both standard notation and tablature, and have a working knowledge of chords and scales in all keys, and have both nylon string “classical” and electric or acoustic electric guitars. Guitarists are responsible for their own strings.
If you have never had classes in music theory, you will want to prepare yourself by looking at any of a number of music theory websites. The things you will want to review are chord spellings for major and minor triads and seventh chords in all keys and major and minor scale structure. You will also need to be able to “match pitch” in singing, even if you are an instrumentalist. “Match pitch” means to be able to sing with your voice any pitch played on piano in your vocal range. Even instrumentalists will have to learn to sing to some extent.
All music majors, in performance and teacher certification have to pass a piano proficiency exam. You won’t have to be a concert pianist, but all music degrees include this requirement, which is basically being able to play major and minor scales, sight read and play simple piano pieces and accompaniments. Piano classes are part of the music curriculum, but you should spend time becoming familiar with the piano keyboard before you arrive at college. It should be said now that piano proficiency and music theory are the two reasons students don't continue in the music curriculum. Be prepared to spend time on those two subjects.
What else should you have? The basic items for the well prepared music major include a metronome, a tuner if you are an instrumentalist, and a folding music stand. Eventually you will need performance attire, which for men will be a tuxedo, with a white shirt, black bow tie, black leather dress shoes and black calf length socks. For women, a black dress is required. You will want to check with your ensemble director or private teacher about lengths. You will also need black shoes comfortable enough to stand in for at least an hour. Like students in all majors you will have to purchase supplies for college, including books for classes. There are books for music classes, of course, just like for math, history and every other subject. You will also be expected to purchase print music for some of your courses. Although you may have practiced or performed from “copies” before, using photocopied music is illegal and you should avoid it if possible.
All music majors will be assigned to an applied instructor who will also probably be your academic advisor. Although you will have teachers for many subjects, your applied instructor will be your primary teacher for instrumental or vocal lessons and will know your program requirements better than anyone else. You should make it a point to get to know your applied teacher very well. Throughout your college career your applied teacher will be your best friend.
All music majors in all colleges have to take a class called “recital” every semester. In this class you will perform and listen to others perform. If you have never performed in public as a soloist, you should get ready to do this. Your applied instructor will help you prepare. Juries are performance examinations given at the end of each semester. It’s like a performance “final exam.” The faculty from your area will listen to you play and assign a grade. All music majors in all colleges have to play juries.
An audition is usually required to get admitted as a music major. All instrumentalists and vocalists should have some solo repertoire that they can sing or play to performance level. Contact the applied instructor for your area to find out about auditions. More than likely, the audition will be used for scholarship consideration as well. Prepare and perform the best you can. Your first impression will be important and might win you some financial reward. Arrange your initial audition with your area applied instructor.
Expect to practice your instrument or voice up to fourteen hours a week or more, probably more. The entire reason for majoring in music is to become the best performer you can be, whether your concentration is performance or teacher certification. That’s just expected. Not expecting to practice and perform would be like studying to become an engineer without becoming proficient in mathematics, or studying medicine without knowing anatomy. If you don’t want to spend a significant time practicing, it would be safer to select another career field. Performances and rehearsals are a requirement as well. Don’t expect to miss lessons, performances or rehearsals just because you don’t feel like going that day. Often, your scholarship amount will be related to your performance responsibilities.
This is a short summary of what being a music major requires. As stated earlier, music is not just band or choir, it’s a complete academic discipline unto itself, with many facets you will come to know and many avenues to explore. Every college major requires personal initiative and responsibility, out of class study, practice, professionalism, and good time management skills. The only college major in which you have to stand in front of others and exhibit your art (with the possible exception of drama), or in which you must contribute to a living presentation of art, is music. If you have chosen music as your career, then work at it with all your energy and with all your heart. The music faculty is ready and anxious to help you succeed.
Good luck and welcome to the Midwestern State University Department of Music.